Govt keeping close eye on delinquent contractors – Edghill

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The Government, through the Public Works Ministry, is keeping a close eye on delinquent contractors to ensure they do not take advantage of the State – even without an existing legislative framework to blacklist contractors.

This is according to Public Works Minister Juan Edghill on Monday, who was asked about legislation to ensure contractors who default on projects can be blacklisted. According to him, this is something being looked at by the Finance Ministry through the National Procurement and Tender Administration board (NPTAB).

“While there is no legislation, we are keeping a very clear eye out on non-performing contractors, contractors who lack the capability or who do shoddy works because we want to ensure that our record is clear,” Edghill said.

“Over the year that we have been there at the Ministry, I’m proud to report to you we haven’t had to battle in that environment because we have been very keen and I could say that, that has happened across sectors in absence of legislation,” he added.

According to the Minister, his Ministry has a responsibility when it comes to the award of contracts, to ensure that when a contractor is engaged, it is someone with a proven track record capable of getting the job done.

Under the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, the Ministry has had a rocky time implementing projects. Two examples of this are the Leguan and Bartica Stellings.

Last year, the Government had terminated S Maraj Contracting Service’s $413 million contract to repair the deplorable Leguan Stelling, on the grounds of project delays. Despite the company being granted several extensions, the project which was supposed to be completed by June 18, 2019, had still not been completed. According to Project Manager Jermaine Braithwaite, works on the Leguan Stelling are progressing.

“Overall, percentage progress is about 55 per cent. There are some major aspects of the expanded portions of the stelling, what we call the Northern section, which we are projecting will be completed the latest May of this year. This is 160 feet by 130 feet reinforced concrete stelling deck,” he said.

“The foundation work for the major parts of the work that was undertaken in 2021, the contractor has installed 228 prestressed concrete piles, of which he has installed, fully, about 180. So once that aspect of the work is completed, we will progress to casting the deck. And of course, the ancillary structures that will be constructed on the deck will follow that. So we’re projecting that substantial completion of the project will be achieved at latest, May of this year.”

When it comes to the Bartica Stelling, works were also supposed to have been completed under the former Government. Up to last year, however, contractor Courtney Benn Contracting Services had not completed the project. It was explained by Edghill that certain policy decisions have to be made on the way forward with the Bartica Stelling contract.

“Bartica, there are some policy decisions that have to be made. There was a contract that was awarded before we got there. There are problems with the implementation of the contract and the contractor. We have engaged the contractor at the highest level and he had committed to pursuing getting the work done.”

“So when I say there is a policy direction, we have to come to a position of saying whether we continue to wait on the contractor or we terminate and put a new contractor in place. But I would like to assure the people of Bartica, in 2022 movement on the Bartica Stelling will be done. It is part of our Budget 2022 proposals and we expect in 2022/2023, the entire Bartica Stelling should be completed, whether we stay with the old contractor or we go to a new contractor,” Edghill said.